Non-Aligned Movement Looking for Identity

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ali Akbar Abdolrashidi  

Active ImageThe summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement was held in Cairo, Egypt, last week. It was the second time that Egypt hosted a Non-Aligned Movement summit. The first time was in 1964 when Egypt was led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, a founding father of the movement.

In 1964, the world was in for a major development. A new movement was being born with revolutionary and independence-seeking leaders as its members. They first met in Belgrade and then in Cairo.

In the history of the Non-Aligned Movement, the year 1964 has been defined as the year for moving toward solidarity. In the 15th summit in Cairo, however, everything had changed in terms of structure and concept.

The Non-Aligned Movement is currently a titular movement and nobody asks non-alignment to what? What non-alignment is supposed to mean at a time when there is no rivalry between the West and the East, the Cold War has ended, and while the non-aligned countries are competing for cooperation with the United States and its allies?

The Non-Aligned Movement has survived after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and termination of the Cold War without coming up with a new definition of non-alignment. The Non-Aligned Movement which was suffering from profound ideological discrepancies in 1970, just one decade after its establishment, still exists under the same tense and hostile atmosphere among its members.

The Non-Aligned Movement has ignored the fact that priorities of the member states have changed. Many member countries are poor and have grave concerns about the world economic crisis. Introduction of a new international financial and economic system can solve part of their problems. But does the movement enjoy enough theoretical momentum to do that?

Some member countries do not have political relations with each other, let alone economic or cultural ties. Some leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement states did not take part in the Cairo meeting due to political differences with Egypt. So, how they can talk about solidarity among member states, at least, for the coming three years when Egypt will be at the helm?

Today, talking about absolute independence, as was common in the second half of the 20th century, does not seem logical. As put by the United Nations secretary-general on the sidelines of the Cairo summit, no big or small country can claim that they are capable of solving their own problems alone, let alone regional and international problems. The modern world now believes in interdependence; a concept which has been largely ignored by the Non-Aligned Movement.

At its outset, the Non-Aligned Movement was a counterbalance in international relations, but at present, it is not capable of creating a balance in international relations and, as put by the editor in chief of daily al-Ahram, it is working in line with the interests of the United States and the West and has taken imbalance in international relations for granted.

The Non-Aligned Movement is only a club of mostly poor countries grappling with domestic and regional crises and enjoying fragile relations with one another without having enough power to ensure implementation and follow-up of their decisions. They have a long way to go before achieving their early goals as defined in Bandung in 1955 and later in Belgrade in 1961, let alone playing a new role in the modern world.

Source: Ettelaat Persian Daily
Translated By: Iran Review